Tag Archives: Recipe

Spiced Apple Butter (Crock Pot)

What is a girl to do when she has 25 apples to use up and very little free time?

Apple butter–easy, smooth, warmly spiced, sweet, and tangy.  It’s heaven in a crock pot. 

It takes a long time in the crock pot (mine was a full day and night–probably around 20 hours!) but you don’t need to babysit it at all, so it’s a piece of cake.

Apple Butter (makes 3-4 pints)

  • about 10 lbs of apples (I had 20-something small and medium apples, all different varieties)
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1 C water
  • sugar to taste (optional)

First off, peel the apples.  I’m proud to report that I peeled 24 or 25 apples in 19 minutes, and several of those apples without breaking the peel.  You know what I mean?  One long spiral of peel for an entire apple.

I know.  I was impressed, too.

Core the apples and roughly slice them (again, I strongly suggest you get those apple corer/slicer deals–it’ll only cost you a few bucks but it’s so helpful! I use mine every day!).  Dump them all in the crock pot, top with the spices and water, cover, and cook on high for an hour or two.

I couldn’t fit all my apples in the crock pot at once, so I let the first half cook down a bit then crammed the rest in there.  The apples will reduce by a lot, so you’ll have room!

Turn the crock pot down to low, and cook (I left it covered) for 8 hours, during which time I went to class.  Once I came back, I put the crock pot down to low again (it turns off automatically), and removed the cinnamon sticks.  We had a lot of young, green apples, so my apple butter needed a little sugar–I added half a cup.  If you have sweeter apples, it may not be necessary at all to add any.  Totally up to you.  I propped the lid open with a knife and went to bed.  In the morning, my every apple butter dream had come true.

Toast magic!

I put some into jars to keep (and maybe give away–we’ll see!), and the rest in the freezer.  You can process these jars to seal and store them, but I think that in order to do this safely, there should probably be a higher sugar content.  You could always do a little more research if you want to go that route.

I also had some in my giant bowl of steel-cut oats this morning, with some wheat germ and ground flaxseed.  I was full for a good four hours, which felt great since I was back at my clinical playing with the cutest kids ever all day.

What can you use apple butter for?  On toast, in oatmeal, in yogurt, mixed in a green monster, with your cereal, in baked goods, scooped up with fruit, and eaten with a spoon.  Since you probably won’t be able to resist (I sure couldn’t!).

How gorgeous is that dark brown apple butter?

The spices were a perfect balance–no overwhelming cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice taste, but just enough to fill me with glee about the continuing fall weather.

Fall…I love you.

Here’s our CSA box for the week!  Another small one, but they should be getting bigger soon.  So sad that week 17 is already here and we only have 9 left–I’m definitely going to miss it. 

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Filed under Sauces

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza

This recipe was made last night.  And was supposed to be posted last night.  But this happened:

Just kidding.  I actually had a huge migraine when I got home from my clinical, but managed to throw the pizza together since most of it was already made.  I had promised this pizza to Fritz for two days, so I didn’t want to go yet another day without delivering (get it?  delivering? pizza? yeah…).  But by the time it came to posting, I just couldn’t do it.

So here it is, a day later and, happily, headache free.

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza

  • 1 recipe for pizza crust (this is my favorite recipe and makes enough for three pizzas)
  • 1-2 T steak sauce of choice (A1 would be good, I used Worcestershire)
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 3-4 oz steak, sliced thinly (I used leftover flank steak)
  • 1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with the pizza stone inside for at least 20 minutes (no pizza stone?  Use the back of a baking sheet!).  Meanwhile, slowly caramelize the onion over medium heat–you can add a teaspoon full of sugar if you want.  I used red onions and I would have liked them to be a bit sweeter! 

On a piece of parchment paper, stretch out the dough to about a 10′ circle.  Spread with the steak sauce, and top with the caramelized onion and steak.  Finish off with a sprinkle of cheese, and a little salt and pepper.  Bake on the pizza stone for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is browned and the crust is golden.

You should probably brush the edges with olive oil, but I forgot and the world didn’t end.

Fritz was a huge fan of this pizza–which is not at all surprising.  Total man pizza.

I sprinkled mine with a bit more Worcestershire sauce.  As a side note, I would like to know how something spelled “Worcestershire” is pronounced with only three syllables. 

Something is totally wrong there.

I am in the process of slow cooking some apple butter right now, and it should be all done and ready for eatin’ by tomorrow morning.  Have a nice night (wine or not!).

Oh, and check out some of these beauties from our garden:

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Filed under Entrees

Herb-Roasted Carrots

One of the reasons that it is really, really great that I have Fritz around is that he keeps me accountable to make real food for dinner.  Not that he demands it, ’cause he doesn’t, but because it’s fun to cook for someone who is so appreciative, and well…let’s face it–he gets a little grumpy when he’s underfed.

I have a weird tendency when he isn’t home (or in this case, when he gets food at school) to made a side dish, eat it as a main dish, and then have a bowl of cereal a few hours later when I unavoidably get hungry again.  It’s not really the best life strategy, except that it’s easy and I get to test side dishes for future filling, nutritious, and well-rounded meals.

Herb-Roasted Carrots

  • 8-10 medium-sized carrots, scrubbed
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 t each your choise of fresh herbs, chopped–I used garlic chives and curry leaves
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Scrub the carrots down (or peel them if they are big, bad carrots and not sweet baby or adolescent carrots), and chop them in half lengthwise if necessary (the bigger they are, the more likely you chop).

Lay them on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs and salt.  Toss them until they are lightly coated with oil and herbs, then bake at the middle rack for about 20 minutes.

They will be soft and naturally sweet, but with a nice salty, herby flavor.

You could also toss these on the grill for a smokier version.  That’d be excellent.

I also found these carrots (from our CSA box) to be more orange than your average carrot.  It’s not just the picture.  Crazy, huh?

Tomorrow is my second day of my pediatrics clinical, and so far (I know, one whole day of experience) I’m really liking it.  I’m not sure if that is so much because I’m finally getting to do what I really want to do, or if because working at a school means that I get to come home and see this face by 2:30 on Tuesdays and Thursday:

Either way, I like it.

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Filed under Side Dishes

Sea Salt Fennel Chips

Fritz and I did a ridiculous amount of shopping today.  Something about cool weather just makes me want to spend all of our money as fast as humanly possible–combine that with the fact that we redeemed some points from our credit cards that we forgot about (thanks Cait and Jeff for the reminder!) for $250, and it was a done deal. 

It was only through sheer willpower that I didn’t go adopt a fluffy orange kitten.  Next year, Lauren.  Next year.  Maybe as a graduation present?

Since we are good kids, most of the points money will go towards our new iPhones and phone plans, but I did get an amazingly cute dress from Gap for $12, some clothes for Fritz, and the making for a DIY project (a light over our kitchen table).

If that wasn’t enough, my BFF’s mom called to say she was cleaning out her DVD collection, and she just handed us tons of DVDs to look through and claim for our own–it was like Christmas in September!  Thanks, Liz!

Clearly, not much cooking happened today…but I did find a few minutes to make fennel chips.

Sea Salt Fennel Chips

  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1-2 t olive oil
  • sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Trim the stalks off the fennel (you can save or toss, I don’t care!), and cut off the ends.  Divide each bulb in half, then peel the leaves from the core.  Toss them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

When baking chips from veggies, it’s best to be conservative with the salt.  The leaves shrink as they dessicate, and the salt taste can quickly become overpowering if you were too heavy-handed.

Remember, you can always add salt, but you can’t taketh away.

Bake on the middle rack, stirring them occasionally, until dry.  You will probably have to remove the smaller leaves before the thickest ones are done, otherwise they will burn.  It should take about 20 minutes to a half an hour.

I actually couldn’t resist tasting them as I checked on them, and didn’t finish baking them because they were just so good as is.  With some moisture still in the middle of the big ones, they tasted kind of like fennel fries rather than chips.

Delicious either way.

Baked veggie chips are also great with kale or chard–see here for the recipe.

Baking the chips was a really great way to make the strong anise taste of fennel a lot more mild.  You could still taste it, but it wasn’t overwhelming.

And yesterday I went apple picking with Fritz and some really lovely ladies:

We ate apple cider donuts, apple cider, and of course, tasted about a million apples on the orchard.  I plan on making apple butter using what we picked, but since I’ve never made it before I want need to find a recipe I like that doesn’t add pounds of sugar.  Any suggestions?

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Filed under Snacks

Roasted Tomato Bisque

I’m over at Cait and Jeff’s house, stealing their internet to blog while we wait for Jersey Shore to start.  There’s leftover apple crisp warming up in the oven and their adorable Westie puppy is lovin’ all over Fritz.  It’s a good life.

So yesterday, I decided to make soup to celebrate the beginning of fall.

You may have noticed that I’ve celebrated the beginning of fall multiple times despite the fact that the autumnal equinox has yet to actually occur.  I also got super excited tonight when Fritz and I went out to the car and realized how COLD it was outside–I had to run back in to get my absolute favorite Fritz/old man/wool sweater. 

I’ll give you one guess what my favorite season is.

Roasted Tomato Bisque (from the CIA’s Book of Soups)

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 baby leeks (or one normal-sized leek)
  • 1 onion (I used three small shallots)
  • 3-4 large tomatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 2 C vegetable broth
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 C long grain white rice
  • salt to taste

I didn’t end up using the can of diced tomatoes, because the tomatoes I had were more than enough.  Before you get started, slice the majority of the tomatoes (you want about a cup of chopped tomatoes left over) 1/2″ thick and lay them on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Roast the tomatoes at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, then set them aside to cool so you can dice ’em.

Take the remaining tomato and dip it in boiling water for a few minutes and then in cold water–that will make the skin peel off so you can chop it and set that aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot, and add the diced leeks and shallots.  Cook for a few minutes until soft, then add the tomatoes (both roasted and peeled), thyme, and broth.  Let the soup simmer for about half an hour, then add the rice and simmer until the rice is cooked, about another 15 minutes.  Add the balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.

Pour the soup into a blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender, if you were lucky enough to have your mother-in-law give you a fantastic one as a gift and you didn’t break it by trying to blend ice with it).

Serve right away–this soup is really thick and satisfying, not like a can of good ol’ Campbell’s soup.

And in case you were wondering what makes a bisque a bisque, they are soups of French origin usually made from a broth of a crustacean (not this soup) or a creamy soup from roasted and pureed vegetables (yup!).

The addition of rice to this soup makes it so creamy–without the cream.  I’ll take that any day!

We also picked up our CSA box number 16–it’s the first time you’ve seen pictures of the box in a while, because of 12 & 13 passed by while we were on vacation, 14 was cancelled from the hurricane, and 15 was picked up by Fritz when I was in classes.  The box is still looking a little sparse because of the hurricane, but some winter crops should be picking up soon–yay!

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Filed under Soups/Stews

Sage & Butternut Squash Pizza

Fall came crashing into my life today in the most delicious way ever.  Let me teach you the way:

Butternut squash + goat cheese + sage + homemade roasted garlic pizza sauce = the best fall inspired pizza known to mankind.

Seriously.  And don’t just take my word for it.  Make it yourself.

I was inspired by a recipe in a vegetarian cookbook I read through at the thrift store–they are the ones who gave me the idea for butternut squash and sage together on pizza.  The execution is so basic that you don’t need a real recipe, anyway.  But here’s some anyway, “just in cases” (10 points if you can name that quote).

Here’s the basic pizza dough recipe, and here’s the roasted garlic and pepper tomato sauce I used.  The pizza dough recipe makes enough for three pies, but this recipe made two pies.  Freeze the last third of the dough to use some other time!  My measurements are all very approximate–because I didn’t measure and because pizza is so specific to individual tastes!  Just try it and see.

Sage & Butternut Squash Pizza

  • pizza dough for two pies
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • dash of salt
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • handful of fresh sage leaves (about 20 per pie)
  • 1/2 C-1 C sauce for each pie
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese (to split between the two pies)
  • 1-2 C shredded mozzarella cheese (depends on your personal taste)

Spread the butternut squash and half the sage leaves on a baking sheet (I used a deep glass one).  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.  I did this while the pizza dough was rising.

This is quick and easy.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (the hotter the better!) and set your pizza stone inside to heat up.  If you don’t have a stone, you can use the back of a baking sheet to bake the pizza on, but don’t worry about preheating it beforehand.

Spread the dough out to a circle with a roughly 10″ diameter on top of a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal.  Spoon the sauce on top, and sprinkle with the two types of cheese.  Layer half the butternut squash and sage leaves over the top, and add a few more fresh sage leaves.

Don’t forget to brush the edges with olive oil!

Slide the pizza and parchment paper from the table top on to a large plate or baking sheet back, then transfer it on the stone in the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the bottom and edges are browned and the cheese is bubblin’.

Best served sliced and eaten immediately so the cheese burns your mouth.

Then again, that might just be my way.

I absolutely love the taste and texture of goat cheese on pizza–it’s so good!  It makes the slightly boring taste of butternut squash become exciting.

Lastly, this pizza is ridiculously filling with all the squash on top–Fritz and I didn’t even finish a pizza between the two of us (but we really, really wanted to).

Have a good night!

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Sunrise Muffins

I’ve wanted to make these muffins ever since I bought Allison Fishman’s You Can Trust a Skinny Cook–mostly because the recipe involves putting an entire orange (peel, pith, and all) right into the blender.

That just appeals to the green monster-making side of me–and I’m so used to using and washing the blender every day that I don’t mind breaking it out again.  Combine that with the chilly, rainy weather that woke me up this morning, and sunrise muffins became a necessity.

Sunrise Muffins (makes a dozen muffins)

  • 1 orange (I actually used a tangelo), sliced into eighths
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat pastry flour, with excellent results)
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 dried fruit (I used a dried berry mix–cherries, blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line muffin tins with papers.

The fun part: in the blender, combine the eggs, oil, orange juice, and sliced orange sections, and blend until smooth.  While blending, mix the remaining ingredients except the dried fruit in a medium bowl, and create a well for the orange mixture.  Pour it in, mix until a smooth batter forms, and fold in the dried fruit.

You may regret tasting the batter at this point because it is so gosh-darn, finger-licking, re-taste, save-a-little-extra-in-the-bowl-who-cares-if-the-muffins-are-tiny good.  Anyway, divide the (remaining) batter evenly into the 12 muffin tins.  Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Cool on a rack.

I love how golden these are, thanks to the orange–they really do look like a sunrise.

And the taste.  Wow.  I wasn’t expecting anything magical from these muffins, but these really served to remind me that basic can be best!  They are sweet and tangy but also have the perfect amount of salt.

A teaspoon of salt can do so much for a basic muffin.  I ate one muffin.  I want to eat many more muffins.  Morning can’t come soon enough.

Oh, and for those who are interested, these muffins are only 175 calories each!

In case these muffins aren’t enough to brighten your day, here’s some of my absolute favorite new photos from an apple-picking session I went on with my mom and younger sister Kristen a few weeks ago:

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Filed under Breakfast

Lavender Salt & Sugar

This post is so quick and easy I can hardly call it a recipe.

But pretty? Yes.  Delicious?  Oh, yeah.

Welcome, lavender salt and lavender sugar.  I’ve seen you around the blog universe, and I think even Martha Stewart would appreciate your gift-worthiness.  Plus, lavender grown in my very own herb garden made you extra easy to make–and real cheap.

Lavender Salt or Sugar

  • 1/2 C sugar (white or brown) or coarse sea salt
  • 3 t dried lavender buds (make sure they are approved for eating!)

I gave the lavender buds a quick whirl in my coffee grinder to break them up a bit and release some of those fragrant (not to mention delicious) oils.  I kept them mostly whole, so they were recognizable as lavender buds, though.

Either layer or combine the salt or sugar with the lavender in a glass container (or hey, you could go plastic if you want) with a lid. 

Well, that’s it.  You’re done.

I did a small one with brown sugar (probably only a quarter of a cup of sugar, if that) for sprinkling on top of oatmeal or baked goods.

I also did a bigger one with coarse sea salt–which would also be amazing on top of baked goodies (lavender salted chocolate fudge, anyone?), or fish, or pork.

Lastly, I made a fairly large container of plain white sugar–I figured I could add small amounts to things that I am baking for some extra flavor.  Or imagine rolling snickerdoodles in lavender sugar?  Gosh.

So many possibilities.

And of course, this makes a cheap and easy gift, especially if you tie a sweet label with some ribbon or string.

Christmas is coming up, ya know! 

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Filed under Spice Mixes

A Peck of (Really Hot) Pickled Peppers

Hello, friends! 

It feels so good to be able to cook and blog every day.  I will never, ever, ever take having power for granted ever again until probably this weekend when I get used to everything running smoothly without any effort on my part.

But I shouldn’t take it for granted, because it is so awesome to have power.

To finish up my fall prep by canning the rest of the goods from my parents’ garden, I decided to make pickled banana peppers.  We’ve been eating a lot of sandwiches (brown bag lunches at school, ya know), and I thought a sweet and spicy pickled pepper would be perfect to jazz them up through the winter when veggies are a little lackluster.

I also discovered that what I thought were harmless banana peppers were actually super HOT banana peppers, and now my poor innocent hands are burning like fire since I wasn’t wearing gloves when I cut them.  Word to the wise: wear gloves.  You could use this recipe with mild or spicy peppers–doesn’t matter one bit.

Pickled Banana Peppers

  • 25 banana peppers
  • 2 C water
  • 3 C white vinegar
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C salt
  • 2 T whole peppercorns
  • 1 T caraway seeds
  • 1 T dill seeds
  • 2 t ground allspice

These are getting canned into four pint-sized jars, so get all that canning stuff ready–big stock pot of boiling water to sterilize the jars, smaller saucepan to simmer the lids in, big tongs, and dish cloths and potholders to protect your sensitive mitts.  Especially if you’ve already burned the crap outta ’em with hot pepper juice.

Start by slicing the peppers–I cut off the tops, removed the core and as many seeds as I easily could with a knife, and then sliced them into thin rings.  Soak all the peppers in a giant bowl of ice water with a T or so of salt in it for at least an hour.  I’m not sure exactly what this step is for, but since everyone else is doing it, I’ll do it too.

Once the peppers are ready, sterilize the jars by boiling them in water for at least ten minutes.  While the giant pot of water is coming to a boil, bring the remaining ingredients (water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices) to a boil as well. 

Once the jars are sterilized, pack them full of peppers and cover with the vinegar mixture.  Careful with all the hot stuff–no burns, please!

It might be helpful to strain the liquid through a strainer as you pour it in the jars, and then you can evenly divide the spices among the four jars.

Put the lids on the jars, screw the tops on (not too tight, just a gentle closure), and return them to the boiling water to process.  Boil the jars vigorously for 40 minutes, then remove from the liquid and set on a dish towel to cool.  If the lids pop and don’t spring back when pressed, the jars have sealed properly and you are good to go.

Don’t they look gorgeous?

I’d let them pickle in the vinegar for a few weeks before eating them.

I’d also be careful about eating them if you used the same kind of death-in-disguise super-hot banana peppers that I used.

Winter sandwiches have officially been jazzed.

I leave you with a few pictures from a trip downport that Fritz and I took the other day with our good friends Cait and Jeff:

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Filed under Side Dishes, Snacks

Farro with Mushrooms & Artichokes

One thing my mom has always been really good at is giving me a challenge to complete.  And alongside that, she also gifted me the genetic drive to want, nay, the need to complete every challenge to award myself the ultimate satisfaction.

So when she handed me a bag of farro and a jar of artichoke hearts, the challenge was proffered.  And I accepted.

Plus, she always offers to buy whatever other ingredients I need.  Can’t resist that offer.

Farro with Mushrooms & Artichokes Printable Recipe Card

  • 2 C cooked farro (instructions below)
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 shallots (or one small onion), diced
  • 16 oz mushrooms, sliced (I used bella, but others would work)
  • 1 small can artichoke hearts, quartered (I used the kind packed in water, not oil)
  • 1 t dried ground thyme
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 C dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)

Start off by pre-cooking the farro.  Bring two cups of water to a boil and 1 C freshly rinsed farro.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed and the farro is tender (about 25-30 minutes).

And farro, by the way, is delicious.  Kinda like barley, if you’ve never had it.  In fact, you can sub barley in for this recipe, or use any other grain (spelt? brown rice?  The world is your oyster).

Once the farro is nearly ready, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook until translucent, then toss in the mushrooms (it’d probably be a good idea to do the mushrooms in two batches so you don’t crowd them–Julie & Julia, anyone?).  Once most of the liquid is cooked out of the mushrooms, add the remaining ingredients (including the cooked farro), and simmer on low until the rest of the liquid cooks down.

Oh, man.  Yum.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The farro gets a nice and creamy taste (without cream!), thanks to all the liquid that cooks with it.  Plus, can you really go wrong with butter, mushrooms, and white wine?

I mean, not really.  No.  The answer is no.  You can’t go wrong.

And if you were to imbibe in a refreshing glass of wine while this is bubbling away on the stove, no one could blame you.  I certainly wouldn’t.

Add some grilled tuna steaks to this meal, and you have really sealed the deal.  I’d come over for dinner.  You can invite me at lauren@fullmeasureofhappiness.com or on my Facebook page.

No, really.  Or invite Fritz over, because he’s all alone on Long Island, and probably hungry.  And Henry?  He’s definitely starving.  Always is.

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Filed under Side Dishes